When my wife and I traveled last month, we decided to do Airbnb instead of staying in a stuffy hotel.
When we first arrived at the house, there was a handy checklist on the kitchen table from the homeowners — the Wi-Fi password, best restaurants in the neighborhood, favorite walks and even a note on the cute dog next door. (He’s very friendly, and if he’s out, you should definitely pet him through the fence!) Very importantly, the list told us there was a bottle of wine in the fridge and where to find the corkscrew. Instead of feeling like strangers in a strange land, we felt, for a few days at least, as if we lived there.
My wife sometimes jokes that we’re away so much these days, we ought to rent out our house to folks who want to visit Pittsburgh. I tell her nobody would want to stay in our house, but she thinks it’s quaint, close to the city and comfortable. This week, I sat down and tried to think through what kind of list I’d leave on our kitchen table if we became e-landlords.
Welcome visitors! Make yourselves at home!
Right by the front door, sometimes there’s an odd, “fecally” kind of smell. We’re not sure whether it comes from inside (the dog has a nervous stomach) or whether it’s from the chemical facility across the river (Don’t worry, we’re still alive … right?). Best thing to do is just hold your breath for a moment and try not to think too hard.
The password for the wifi is written on the side of the router in a microscopic font. If you have good eyes, you might be able to read it. If you figure it out, please write it down for me, as I don’t have good eyes.
There are 10 remotes on the coffee table. One works the TV, one the cable, one the Chromecast, and the others might be from old TVs or VCRs we used to have. But we’re still trying to sort that out.
The electric outlet in the master bathroom works, but you can’t use a hair dryer if the TV is also on in the bedroom. If it goes POOF, hit the red button on the outlet and do only one of those two things at a time. Also, for some reason, the light switch in the front bedroom controls only the lights in the back bedroom. That’s why it has a big piece of duct tape over it and a sign: “DON’T USE!”
If you want to take a walk, I’ve attached two lists of neighbors: Good Ones, who are usually sitting out drinking on their porch and will offer you something if you stop and talk, and Jerks, who stare at you funny if you drink a beer while walking your dog.
There are extra towels in the linen closet, but they’re a mishmash of hotel takeaways, faded beach towels (Remember “High School Musical”?) and the kind of towels they sell at Target that look nice but don’t dry you off because they’re made of 150 percent polyester. There are also towels that are kind of ripped up. We use them to dry off the dog after her bath, so you can steal those if you want to.
As you yank on the back door to go out, you’ll have to lift, as the house has settled a bit. Please remember to wear shoes when you do this. We have a heavy brass doorknob, and when it comes off and falls on your foot (Oh, it will. It will), you’re going to want protection.
You’ll also need those shoes if you walk around the backyard. The dog has her favorite places to go, and I know this minefield by heart. Amateurs should probably just avoid it.
If you go in the basement, at the back of the house, under the stairs, there’s a gray door. DO NOT OPEN IT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO. NOT. OPEN. IT.
There might be a bottle of wine in the fridge, but it’s only half full, and it has a screw cap instead of a cork. If you do find the corkscrew, though, please leave me a note telling me where it is. I’ve been looking for it since last summer.